SUUF and Nones

Read this headline aloud and people might imagine that at the Sedona Unitarian Universalist Fellowship female clergy dressed in black and white habits chant psalms.  No, there are no nuns at SUUF, but there are many “Nones.”

Nones is a term used for people who check a survey box saying they have “no particular religious affiliation.”  This group has grown recently to about 30% of Americans.

Nones usually are defined by what they aren’t— adherents to a religious tradition—rather than who they are or what they believe.

Although most Unitarian Nones did leave the confines of a more traditional religion, many didn’t get rid of their beliefs–they expanded them.

They fit better into a new category, described by David Campbell, Notre Dame professor, in his recent book, Secular Surge, as “religious secularists.”  He says religious secularists “see the world through a secular lens, but they also have a foot in a religious community.” They have “found a way to accommodate both ways of seeing the world.”

In journalist Jessica Grose’s recent NY Times articles about the trend of Americans moving away from religion, she asked her readers for input, and 7,000 replied.  Many said they had found “a new spiritual community that was less exclusionary than the denomination they were raised in.”

One was Donnell McLachlan, from Chicago, who wrote that “his church did a lot for him and his family when he was growing up, but he gradually came to feel that it was a faith rooted in fear and judgment.”

McLachlan now describes himself as a “spiritual pluralist” rather than a Christian, though he still values “the love-rooted, justice-centered wisdom found in the Bible.”

He added, “Religion is like a language, a means of communicating with the divine. And just like language, there are many interpretations and ways to express it. I believe that love is the ultimate law of life, and try to align my spiritual practices with traditions that reflect this belief.”

He could well be talking about SUUF, where many congregants might well be described as spiritual pluralists.

[published June 30, 2023]